The WaKeeney couple resurrect a historic place of worship

By JAMES BELL
Hays Post

WAKEENEY — For 75 years, the Immanuel Lutheran Church of WaKeeney — home to a congregation that was first formed in 1925 — has been part of the community. But with Sunday morning attendance dwindling, the decision was made last year to sell the building as parishioners found new places of worship.

While old churches often fall into disrepair, only to be razed to the ground, a local couple instead saw an opportunity to preserve the church’s legacy – and create a unique place for travelers of all kinds to find the comfort of the House.

David and Tami Green purchased the building at 438 Main and recently completed a full renovation transforming the historic structure into a one-of-a-kind vacation rental within walking distance of downtown WaKeeney.

An open house is scheduled for 1-3 p.m. Sunday, allowing locals to view the completed work at what is now the aptly named Kirch Haus – translated from German, “church house”.

“We wanted to preserve the building so it could hopefully live for another 100 years and draw people to WaKeeney,” Tami said.

Remnants of church objects remain scattered around the Kirch Haus.
Remnants of church objects remain scattered around the Kirch Haus.

Buying the structure was a quick process for David after seeing the sign for sale in early 2021.

“I came and watched it,” he said. “And we made an offer, and they accepted it in about 12 hours. I mean, it was boom, boom, boom, and it happened.

Along with the sale of the building, they also came to buy the furniture and materials inside. They used it, including as many items and artifacts as possible during the remodel.

A piece of the altar was used to create a unique headboard in the master bedroom.
A piece of the altar was used to create a unique headboard in the master bedroom.

“There were all the pews in it,” David said. “There was all the ‘ecclesiastical’ stuff.”

Now the space honors the building’s heritage paired with modern conveniences.

A Christmas tree is expected to be permanently placed in the Kirch Haus, reflecting the fact that WaKeeney is known as the Christmas Town of the High Plains.  Two church pianos also survive in the building.
A Christmas tree is expected to be permanently placed in the Kirch Haus, reflecting the fact that WaKeeney is known as the Christmas Town of the High Plains. Two church pianos also survive in the building.
A snack area inside the ground floor of the Kirch Haus.
A snack area inside the ground floor of the Kirch Haus.
The original stained glass windows remain throughout the space.
The original stained glass windows remain throughout the space.

But working to create a home in the old church required more than moving furniture.

Most of the project included a new ceiling and the restoration of the original hardwood floors.

“The floor had carpet and the ceiling had all these ceiling tiles,” David said, “so everything had to go up and out.”

Doing most of the work themselves, replacing the old ceiling tiles with wooden planks took six weeks. It would take six more to remove the carpet and glue from the floors, exposing the original hardwood floor.

Old electrical wiring was also replaced, as new rooms were built in what was the sanctuary, and new plumbing was installed to create a new kitchen and new bathrooms.

The finished product is a 12-person facility, with seven beds in five bedrooms, three full bathrooms, and one bathroom across 2,160 square feet.

While the project has only just been completed, reviews from those who have stayed in the building have already been rave reviews.

And the community has also been overwhelmingly supportive of the new look and purpose of the building.

“We have a lot of interest from the local community,” Tami said. “In fact, when we did, when it was warmer, we left that front door open. And we probably had three or four visits a day.

“A couple of former parishioners came in and said, ‘What you’re doing is great,'” David said.

For more information on The Kirch Haus or to book a stay, visit the listing on vrbo.com.

Comments are closed.